Saturday, 31 January 2015

There's just one problem with spending most of our time at home....................

...............when we do go out there are so many errands to run that it takes the whole morning.

We've found that if we start early enough on our rare trips to Ipswich that it's actually better to go on a Saturday - no school and less work traffic. With a £5 off voucher that needed using before the end of the month it was today or waste it. So we got away just after 8am, first stop the Pet place for a sack of cat litter. Second  Sainsburys for their bargain bacon ( 6 chunky bacon chops and 4 x 8oz of slices/bits for £3.45 + 4 belly pork slices for £2.21 minus the £5! = not a lot). Aldi for quite a lot of shopping ( Feb shopping a bit early) that only came to just over £20 BUT drastic news - NO bread flour - darn it - I shall be forced to get it from Tesco where it's several pence dearer.  Next stop the town centre where I had £10 off spending at The Grape Tree and £5 off voucher for Lakeland and finally a quick dash round  Poundland. Then Wyevale Garden Centre on the way home with another  £5 off. Home by 12.30 and collapse in a heap vowing not to go back to Ipswich until March!

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I see several comments on other blogs about the Eat Well for Less programme on Thursday night, I watched 5 minutes decided that YES it was just another programme that would make me cross and switched off. Not keen on Gregg Wallace anyway. I don't need to watch a load of idiots wasting money!

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No book shelf pictures today, just a book review of one of my library books
book cover of 

The Zig Zag Girl

The Zig Zag Girl

(The first book in the Zig Zag Girl series)
A  new novel by

This is what it says on Fantastic Fiction website
Brighton, 1950.
When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar's. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men. 
Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, sword-swallowers and dancing girls. Changing times mean that variety is not what it once was, yet Max is reluctant to leave this world to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind. 
Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another 'trick', the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in the killer's sights...

Elly Griffiths previously wrote a crime series featuring Ruth Galloway, an archeologist, set in present day Norfolk. With this new series she has gone back to the 1950s.
I found this a very quick read, nowhere near as much detail as her other books. I wonder if she will do more of the Ruth Galloway series?

 What a lot of lovely comments were left on yesterdays post. Thank you to everyone and apologies for not replying individually.

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Friday, 30 January 2015

Frugal Friday and Finding Pleasure in Small Things

I've said it before and no doubt will say it again, but the best way to be frugal is to be happy at home. If you are forever having to go out ( I'm not talking about going to work obviously) just for entertainment then it's bound to end up with money being spent.

We often spend four, five or even six days in a row at home and we both find plenty to keep us occupied. Our reasons for going out are usually to buy milk or fresh fruit and this will be combined with other errands such as paying a bill, sending a parcel, collecting chicken feed or needing an item from the hardware or DIY shop.

Today has been another stay at home, doing things for ourselves and saving money day. Col spent a while trying to find the puncture in the tyre on the mower trailer, cleaned out the small chicken shed, and cut some more of the conifer hedge, he's round the back now on the campsite, doing the sides little by little. I got 3 loaves of bread made, my bread costs less than 30p a loaf, did some cleaning and chopped kindling in between times. The other semi final from the Australian tennis was on 5 Live Extra on the radio so I listened as I worked.We refuse to spend extra on television channels so manage without, there's enough choice for us.

Because we stay at home we can wear old clothes, often from charity shops, we don't need to buy new clothes very often. Because we stay at home we can use the Rayburn for cooking and heating the kettle - we are here to put on our free wood to keep it going. Because we stay at home the washing can dry out on the line - I'm here to get it in if it rains so the tumble dryer doesn't need to be used.
It's good to be happy at home.

Here are the other things that have saved us money in January.

Homemade compost spread around fruit bushes
Biking to town twice instead of driving
Repairing a zip in a pair of jeans
Cutting free wood and kindling for free heat
Eating our own apples( until the 10th) onions,potatoes and beetroot from store. Brussels sprouts,leeks, parsnips and swedes from the garden. Apples,pears,apricots,plums and peppers from the freezer.
Knitting dishcloths
Making Christmas cards from my craft stash
Reading free library books

Finding pleasure from small things in January.

 Mabel -our very shy outside cat - following me all round the field as I go to collect the eggs.
Seeing more of our son and future daughter in law now they are back in Suffolk.
Being able to share ideas for books and lovely comments from strangers and friends on the blog
Crocuses in a pot on the kitchen windowsill.

 Thank you for comments about the books and bookshelves, I will be back with more pictures next week. I had a count up and there are around 50 pictures still to be taken before I get to the end! Forgot to say yesterday that there were 119 books on those shelves and 68 from the day before so the total so far is 307. Yes, seems  we do have over a 1000 books.

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Yes, you guessed, more book pictures.

No snow here yet but quite a bit colder, I watched the 1'Oclock news with all the pictures of disruption in the North of England and younger part of me would love some here and the older half of me say's No - too much bother.

We got the big chicken shed cleaned out today, one trailer load into the compost bins and another trailer load spread around the fruit trees. Fresh chicken muck is too hot to use in most places but round well established trees it should be OK. The blackbirds will have a whale of a time sorting through it and the rain will wash all the goodness onto the tree roots.

Later this morning Col took our son to Ipswich to pick up his car that was supposed to have been sorted out, but M later phoned to say that he had lost power, with loads of smoke, he pulled over turned off the engine, re-started and got home with no more problems. This is what the garage should have cured.

I suddenly thought "Tennis"! and managed to catch the final 2 sets of Andy Murray's semi-final in Australia, and he's looking back in form, winning through to be in the final Sunday - on BBC1 just after 8am they said. Must remember.

Now some of my favourite bookshelves - does everyone have favourite bookshelves or is it just me?

I only have 2 books about goats now but it was having a collection of 10 goat keeping books that got us into buying and selling secondhand books at country shows. Something we did very successfully for several years, until it became too difficult and expensive to source country/livestock/smallholding books from charity shops and the price to have a stand everywhere rocketed so that we were forced to give up. I'm not sure why I still have all these livestock  keeping books - nostalgia for the years we kept animals I guess. The majority of these are secondhand except for the lovely collection of Self sufficiency books that came from The Book People. They still have them - 12 books for £9.99 - bargain.
Lots of lovely, favourite books on this shelf above
Why, you might well ask, have I got 2 copies of Hovel in the Hills by Elizabeth West? Well, one is very very old, ex library and the other is a more recent re-print in which she has an update about what happened after the books. Beside them are her other books about her time in the hills - Garden in the Hills and Kitchen in the Hills. Below are more special books about smallholding and growing.
The two with Homesteading in the title are from the States, but they were both found at a car boot sale in Suffolk just after we moved here, when there were still USAF bases close by. I always wonder if the Air force family who sold them ever managed to have a homestead when they were posted back home.
More country books above. In the centre is a book called Living the Good Life by Linda Cockburn. I think she has a blog about there Australian garden somewhere.

Below are more on the same theme. The Family Smallholding by Katie Thear is interesting. She and her husband David started a magazine called Practical Self Sufficiency from a shed on their smallholding in Essex. They had open days and Col and I went to one in 1979, it was so popular the roads got jammed and they couldn't do anymore. This was just after John Seymour wrote his self sufficiency books and the idea of doing your own thing was at it's peak. The Magazine kept going for several years, changing the title until the Thears sold out and it became Country Smallholding. They also had a book publishing company called Broad Leys Publishing and not long ago Home Farmer Magazine bought out all the titles that Broad Leys had, and are editing,updating and reprinting. ( Two of the titles are on the top shelf)
Hugh FWs River Cottage Cookbook was a bargain - an ex library book - because it's falling to pieces - for £1!

All the big self-sufficiency books are on the bottom shelf, I honestly have no idea how I came to own so many beautiful books. None of these are going anywhere except with me when we downsize!!

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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Wild Wednesday and more bookshelves

The day started fine but windy but by 11 the wind was wild with rain and the temperature dropped away.
I had to nip to Saxmundham first thing for a few bits, and because of the weather it was a driving day rather than a biking day. Col needed to go to a hardware shop so he came too and while it was still fine we went round the charity shops and he found a pair of jeans for £3.50. Coming out of the bank I noticed a sign - New opening times - they are going to be closed all day on Thursdays. Is this the beginning of the end? A small town in Mid Suffolk recently lost their only bank, that must make life difficult for all the businesses in the town. Saxmundham still has 2 banks, most of the other small towns nearby only have one. We shall see what happens.

Now more book shelves photos. Here are the bottom 2 shelves of the first bookcase. Lots of random books here that have been collected over 20+ years. Several are ex-library books and from charity shops, secondhand book sales. Nothing new here. My favourites from these shelves?

 2 books about Arthur Ransome and his Swallows and Amazons books. 
The Helene Hanff omnibus including her well known book - 84 Charing Cross Road. 
 Dear Mr Bigalow - by Frances Woodsford

The bird book and the road map book are falling to pieces and where on earth did the giant London Road Atlas come from? There is another recipe book  here because it's too big for anywhere else, it could go really as I've not looked at it for years, and some of Cols Fred Dibnah and railway books are down there too.

If I had to get rid of some books because we were downsizing it would be several of these from the bottom shelves that would go. Maybe I'll sort through them before we do a car boot sale.

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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Tuesday and the next lot of books

Welcome to Pixiepoppet, Amber and Diana who are all new followers on Google Friends, and Laura following via Bloglovin'.
Thank you to Karen, Happening on Happiness, Dave in Ireland, The angry parsnip, Simple living, Jan, MendingMakingCrafting, Gill, my friend Mary in Bath and Diana who is overseas somewhere for all the comments about my books and bookshelves. Dave has suggested some more books by Tom Hodgkinson for me to add to my library request list. Gill suggests leaving a tin of polish and a duster laying around so that if anyone calls in it looks as if you were just about to start cleaning, that's a better idea than using candles so you can't see the dust.

 The reason I have  the books tidy is so I know where to find each one and we always used to have them level with the front of the shelf when I worked in libraries. I do the same now to stop the layer of dust that would soon collect in front of the books. Having the books forward means the dust is behind them Out Of Sight!

Right, now the next photo is down on the proper bookshelves and under the Miss Read  we have

 my books about money saving and penny pinching. ( Probably would have saved money by NOT buying them!) I think most of these have come from Amazon over the last 15 years, several are from the States. 'Swimming with Piranha makes you hungry' by Colin Turner is a book that really gets to the heart of the matter.

 On the same shelf are my overflow cookery books. The rest are in the kitchen.

Below the money saving books are the first of my WWII collection, these are the most recent acquisitions, Amazon and charity shops again and some are presents from the last couple of years.

Then, laying down on the other half of that shelf are the Oxford Dictionaries and a few  other recently acquired large books. The dictionaries come from my late Dads house when we cleared it out. These are all sitting waiting for a more permanent shelf. Somewhere?

Standing up at the end are my books about books and reading. Two books by Anne Fadiman are brilliant - At Small and At Large and Ex Libris.
That's another 50 books ( running total 120)
 Then below are the other two shelves of my WWII collection, which have been gathered, mostly secondhand, over the last 20 or so years. There are so many good books here it's hard to pick out favourites.

There are a few amongst these that have not been read, one day I shall get round to them. If I was forced to pick one as a favourite then probably 'Few Eggs and no Oranges' by Vere Hodgson is a really good read.
Add those up and that's another 64 so 184 so far, and I'm not even to the bottom of the first bookcase. Maybe we do have more than 1,000 after all.

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A lovely bright Tuesday morning so two lots of washing were out drying on the line today as the forecast is for colder, nasty weather later in the week.  ( And Who left a tissue in a pocket?!! I blame him for not checking before he puts his clothes in the dirty washing bin, he blames me for not checking before I load the washing machine, Hmmm!) The day turned grey just after lunch and the washing was put to dry over the Rayburn.

Col was out for an hour doing some odd jobs for someone up the road and I was in the kitchen doing a bake of cakes for the freezer to keep him happy over the next few weeks. This afternoon he has been doing more of the conifer hedge. He has got round the  ban ( caused by the hardly-a-heart-attack) on using a hedge-cutter by borrowing a lightweight one that has a strap so it hangs over his shoulder like our strimmer. He says this is much easier to use than something that requires being held up in the air with both hands. I just hope he is right, I really do NOT need him stuck in hospital again. - Or worse!

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Monday, 26 January 2015

First book shelf pictures and Monday diary

Posting pictures of my bookshelves every day is going to be an easy way to fill up my posts, it will make me lazy!

Anyway, here is the first of my book shelf pictures, these are actually right on top of the bookshelves. I have most of the Miss Read series published between the 1950s up to the 1980s. I read  most of these while I was working in libraries between 1971 and 1980 and decided to look out for them from charity shops a few years back when I wanted to re read and found the library hadn't got them all. They were surprisingly easy to find secondhand.

 and on top around the corner are Gervase Phinn's brilliantly funny school inspector stories which are being propped up by some of the Narnia tales by C.S Lewis. Nothing bought new here either.
Then also on top of the shelves are my collection of Christmas books, alongside some Arthur Ransome. Almost all these are from charity shops etc except for Keep Calm at Christmas which was a gift a couple of Christmases ago. To the right and out of the picture beside Mr Ransome  are my only 2 Observer books - Architecture and Glass. I don't know where they came from. That makes a total of 70 books on top of the tall shelves in the alcove under the stairs.

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We cut some wood yesterday and a bit more today, it's frightening just how much we get through. Thank goodness it's free. I like helping with wood cutting, its a very satisfying job, really getting back to basics - apart from the fact that Col is using an electric chainsaw!

 I've been reading a library book by  Tom Hodgkinson called How to be Free.  Here is what is says about the book on Amazon

'How to be Free is Tom Hodgkinson's manifesto for a liberated life.
Modern life is absurd. How can we be free?
If you've ever wondered why you bother to go to work, or why so much consumer culture is crap, then this book is for you. Looking to history, literature and philosophy for inspiration, Tom Hodgkinson provides a joyful blueprint for a simpler and freer way of life. Filled with practical tips as well as inspiring reflections, here you can learn how to throw off the shackles of anxiety, bureaucracy, debt, governments, housework, supermarkets, waste and much else besides.'

So spend less therefore you can work less. Every THING that's bought requires maintaining and later replacing. Gadgets don't really save money or time. All a person needs is food, warmth and shelter and mental stimulation. He forgets to mention the bills that arrive whatever, like the Council Tax! I like his idea of lighting the house by candles so that you can't see the dust......I could go along with that idea.

Welcome to some new followers on the Bloglovin' button, they are Suzanne, Gareth and John Gray - thought that Man From Trelawnyd was already on the Google pictures but maybe not. I think someone has gone from Google-I'm sure there were 251 there the other day.

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

25th January- St Paul's Day Weather Sayings and RSPB Bird Count

There seem to be lot's of weather sayings connected to Saint Paul's Day. It must have been an important day in the country calendar. Variations of the following rhyme can be found in several parts of the country.

If St.Paul's Day be fair and clear
It doth betide a happy year
But if, by chance it then should rain,
It will make dear all kinds of grain,
And if the clouds make dark the sky,
The neate and fowls this year shall die.
If blustering winds do blow aloft,
Then wars shall trouble the realm full oft

The Shepherd's Almanack of 1676 predicts 'if the sun shines it betokens a good year; if rain indifferent; if misty it predicts a good dearth; if it thunder, great winds and death of people that year'.
( By the way, neate is an old English word for cattle)

I'm happy to say that we have had blue skies and sunshine for most of the day, a bit chilly but that's not a problem. It was perfect for a walk...... just around the track across the fields from us and back up the road. We have done around 2 miles a few times now so next time we hope to do one of the longer circular walks that we can do from here.

To do the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Col wrapped up in extra layers and sat outside for a while and then came in and sat near the back door. He had put all our feeders in one area during the week so as to be able to see everything at once.
The amount he saw was incredible. I never see this many of anything at any one moment during one hour because I haven't got the patience to stay still long enough!
6 Blackbird, 24 plus Blue Tit, 1 Bullfinch, 1 Coal Tit, 10 Chaffinch, 4 Collared Dove, 4 Dunnock, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Goldfinch, 24 plus Great Tit, 2 Greenfinch, 2 Jackdaw, 1 Jay, 8 Longtail tit, 1 Magpie, 4 Robin, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Greater Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Green Woodpecker,
4 Wood Pigeon, 4 Wren, 1 Sparrow hawk.

It's odd that we have just one Fieldfare as they usually go round in groups, there were a few more a while back but this on seems to have got left behind. He was lucky to spot the Bullfinch as it is more often out along the front hedge and if you stand up by the workshop and Campsite driveway you can often see several Goldfinches but they rarely come down near the house.

I wonder what we would see if we moved to a different part of the country?

Thank you to everyone who commented about our beautiful family bible. I'm going to start with book shelf pictures tomorrow. I shall just do one shelf at a time as it sometimes takes an age to get pictures to load - the joy of country living!

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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Little and Large on my Bookshelves

Sue over at Our New Life In The Country has said that several people have asked her to put pictures of her bookshelves on her blog and I've had a couple of people ask how many books I have. So over the next few weeks I'll be putting  shelf by shelf pictures on here and I'll count them as I go.

I'll start with one book that is too big to fit on a  bookshelf - The Family Bible, laying on top is the smallest book in my collection - a teeny weeny New Testament dating from 1844 with a box of matches so you can judge the size.

 The big Bible was bought by my Great Grandmother ( on my Dads mothers side) for HER father way back in the 1890s. My Dad had it restored several years ago because it was in pretty poor condition. It has some coloured pictures and space to write in Births , Marriages and Deaths. The Bible has been passed down, usually to the eldest of the family so our eldest daughter will be given it sometime before I pop my clogs!
The tiny bible was bought by me for a few pence at a jumble sale sometime in the last 20 years. The name of the owner is written in but is too faded to read but the date is clearer - May 7th 1845. The title page is below. I like the way it says "Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised -By His Majesty's Special Command"

More books next week .

In the meantime

A couple of hours in the kitchen this morning produced a sausage plait ( two days lunches and a dinner, 2 pastry cases - one for the freezer and the other one turned into an apple meringue pie ( Cols desserts for the week), and a saucepan of celery  and onion soup plus I cooked up some dried prunes and defrosted some of our apricots from the freezer ( two of my 5 a day for the week) . In between I hoovered up, cleaned the paintwork around the Rayburn, wiped down the cupboard doors and had a coffee.

Col, meanwhile, had gone up to Ipswich early to meet up with our son ( and give him a lift home) as he had taken his "new" car to a specialist diesel repairer for them to find out exactly whats the matter with it. As the car was cheap it's not so bad that it needs a bit of work. Although the feeling of being mislead by the seller remains.

When  Col got back he started trimming back the conifer hedge( it separates our garden from the campsite). Next time I looked out he was up on top of the campsite toilet block, cutting back some of the hedge that was rubbing on the roof! There's no point in me saying anything about heart attacks etc!

I'm back on dishcloth knitting and cross stitching this afternoon and book reading this evening.

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Friday, 23 January 2015

More than enough library books?

It was a struggle to bike up the hill home from Friston with our library books today. 17 for me and   the same for Col. My books wouldn't even fit onto one photo.
This is what I will be reading in the next 4 weeks
There is quite a variety here including some that have been around for donkeys years but when someone somewhere mentioned them on a blog I thought they deserved a look. Slight problem with The 3 Cities of Bells, a very old book by Elizabeth Goudge , the print is so small I won't be able to read it. The Elliots Of Damerosehay, also a collected edition of 3 novels seems to have slightly larger print and might be OK. There will be no problem with the third book from the first half of the 20th Century as the only copy the library had of Angela Thirkell book - A demon in the House was in large print.
I'm most looking forward to the Elly Griffiths - The Zig Zag Girl. It is not in her successful Ruth Galloway series but set in the 1950s. Then there is the new one in the Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series, always a good read. I've borrowed The Gift To Be Simple from the library before, it is just a book of photos of the Amish people. Reading the book I had for Christmas about them  reminded me of it so I ordered it again for another look. Pam Rhodes, presenter of Songs of Praise has written a series of light stories about a new curate, If You Follow Me is the most recent. The Giant book by C.J.Sansom - Lamentation , will take a bit of reading. Then there are a few other crime fiction by authors I know and a new Agatha Christie Poirot story written by Sophie Hannah plus a few Non Fiction including a book by Emma Bridgewater  about her life and her pottery.

I think I will have plenty to read there to keep me entertained even if we were to be snowed in for a month which seems unlikely as we still have had only a few nights below freezing. Although the temperatures close to the coast are often a couple of degrees up on further inland we are always slightly behind with things growing. I notice rhubarb already showing through on a blog from Lincolnshire and my Helebores are still in bud where as Victoria at Angelsey Allsorts had some in flower several days ago.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday.

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Thursday, 22 January 2015

The odd thing in the cupboard

How do cupboards, that only have clean things put into them, get so grubby inside?
 I took a pyrex dish out from the bottom of the pile and thought eeewww, this cupboard needs wiping out. So I hauled everything out and got busy with the washing up liquid . Then I looked in the next cupboard and that needed doing too. This cupboard is the corner one, where things that are not used often get shoved to the back. Nearly everything I have in there has come from car boot sales, charity shops and jumble sales including this
rescued  for 50p from a sale down in Friston a couple of years ago , simply because it was so unusual. Then of course into the cupboard it went and there it has stayed. It would make quite a big chocolate sheep!
I don't want to sell it, if I stand it on the dresser it's bound to fall down and break. It's a shame but back in the cupboard it will go.

Col had to go to the doctors this morning so I took the opportunity to do a tour of the charity shops, and actually found a good tea-shirt and a suit/dress cover for putting over my dress that I've found for our eldests wedding later this year.

This afternoon he has had the bonfire with rubbish that's been waiting since the campsite closed. We don't like to have one while we have people on site or when the wind is in the wrong direction. But today the smoke could go for a couple of miles before reaching a house or road. There were bags of sawdust from wood cutting, lots of old paper sacks that the mice had got into and a huge pile of hedgecuttings and non-compostable stuff from the garden.
All gone now.

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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Almost back to a normal post

Just one more thing to say about the £20 shopping list -  after posting yesterday I noticed that dried spaghetti had fallen off the list, (Aldi 20p) so I've edited it into the list and then  added in the price and  checked all my adding up and found it came to only £19.11! So there is just enough for another bag of pears. Good news indeedy.

Thank you to everyone who commented and joined in, sorry if it kept folk awake at night thinking of their list!

 Seems the BBC have taken up the challenge too.  I spotted  a trail for a new series of the programme  called - Eat Well For Less, -  the usual thing - people spending a fortune on food, refusing to try value range, chucking out loads of stuff. With Gregg Wallace sorting them out. It's on Thursday 29th BBC1 8pm, a series of 3 .

Back to reality and what we have been up to - well, not a lot  really.
 Col went out yesterday afternoon with our son to look at a car for him. It seemed fine and they bought it cash - fairly cheaply, then on the way home it started to play up. Not good news. The body work and under the bonnet looked in much better condition than his old car so hopefully he can get it fixed without too much extra expense.
I've been tidying up paperwork. We had a chest of draws in the spare room full of old stuff that wouldn't fit in the box files. I was amazed to find we had Cols wage slips and some bank statements dating back to the late 1990s! It's all gone in a bag for burning. Apparently the wind should be in the right direction for a bonfire tomorrow. He has been waiting weeks to get a huge heap of rubbish burnt.
Some of the stuff for burning is bits that he's been trimming from around the hedge all round the field. Because everywhere is so wet our path up to the chickens is right along the hedge-line where things are dryer, but when it was windy we were getting poked in the eye by waving brambles. It's much better now. He was also able to move the smaller chicken shed to a dryer area, thanks to a couple of mornings with a good frost.
I've done the usual bread bake and some more cross stitching for cards for Christmas, a few odd bits of cleaning and some shopping list writing ready for February. We have almost come to the end of some very cheap stuff from Approved Foods including bread flour, milk powder and tea. I've been looking on their site but no luck, looks as if  the proper price will have to be paid next month.

Hello and welcome to new followers - Louise and Mobestephenson.

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A £20 shopping list

Thank you to everyone who commented with suggestions after yesterdays post  about my theoretical ponderings on what you can buy with £20.

I came up with a list but I'm not particularly happy with it. I was trying to find ordinary things  and although it would be filling it's not really very healthy - too much bread and pastry but if you only had £20 (which is after all what a lot of people would spend on just one meal) at least you wouldn't starve! If you are already vegetarian or vegan maybe it would be easier as you would have more ideas for meals without meat. If I could have swapped lentils for the meat it would have been cheaper but I can't eat pulses.
 Dc said why snacks and a dessert? Without the dessert and biscuits there would be a few more pence for fruit but not enough to last all week and surely everyone needs a biscuit now and again? Or is it just me!
 Someone suggested a good green grocer but not everyone has one of those. Our one greengrocers in one town and Wednesday market stall  in the other town both have  no competition so I find they are not cheap. Someone else suggested a farmers market but around here they are all 'Artisan' produce and the one time I went a loaf of bread and some local cheese cost £6!!
Yellow ticket reduced produce were suggested but once again around here the one chain supermarket just does NOT reduce to pennies like I see on other blogs. Of course having a garden and growing things would stretch the budget too but many people don't have that luxury.
Frozen fruit was suggested, that's something I hadn't thought of because I've never bought it as we always have some of our own in the freezer.
And someone is bound to say " you could make a big pan of vegetable soup and eat it for lunches and dinners everyday and that would be much cheaper". Yes that's true but it would be a bit boring and I was trying to plan a normal sort of week.
I think this would be easier if you had the £80 for the month all in one go but of course a lot of people don't have that either.

So..........£20 to spend/ 2 shops/only a few things in the cupboard/3 meals a day + snacks

My £20 shopping list using the My Supermarket comparison website for Tesco and Aldi

500g value cooking bacon 80p
750g.value beef mince £2.69
400g sausage meat £1
1kg value porridge oats 75p
454g value milk powder £1.15
250g.value butter 95p
250g value baking fat 39p
1.5kg bread flour 75p
1.5kg SR flour 45p
yeast 59p
value eggs (15) £1.25
1kg value rice 40p
value spaghetti 20p
2½ kg potatoes £1.15
celery 69p
1kg carrots 55p
1kg value onions 79p
pkt value mashed potato 28p
2 tins value baked beans 48p
2 tins value tomatoes 68p
2 tins value peas 42p
pkt value stuffing mix 15p
jar value mayo 40p
jar value marmalade 27p
bag of value apples 89p
bag of value pears 89p
from the cupboard mixed sweet spices and curry powder, sugar stock cubes, sunflower oil, salt and pepper, tea and coffee for drinks.

This makes
3 loaves bread to have for lunches and toast for breakfast if needed
porridge for breakfasts / and or the toast
some homemade spice biscuits for snacks 
bread and marmalade pudding for one dessert if you need it

main meals
  a bacon/onion quiche feeding 2 people for 2 days,
 a pan full of beef mince/tinned tomatoes/onion/carrot/porridge oats mix to  make 2 portions spagi bol,  2 portions shepherds pie (using the packet of mash to make the potatoes last all week and probably into next week too) and 4 portions to freeze for  2 days next week 
half the sausage meat/half stuffing mix/grated apple/shortcrust pastry makes a sausage plait for 2 portions with veg and some for lunches
a vegetable curry using onions, carrots potatoes and celery
A scalloped potato meal with a little bacon in for flavouring

That's 7 main meals all served with some of the veg either tinned or carrots. I would prefer frozen peas to tinned but that is a bigger outlay.

lunches of 
vegetable soup -twice                          }                     
beans on toast                                       }            With a small piece of fruit each to follow - 
scrambled egg on toast                         }             half a pear or apple each
poached egg on toast                            }              depending on how many were in the pack
bacon sandwich                                    }
sausage plait with grated carrot salad   }

 There would be several things left so that the next week it would be possible to buy
a chicken and cheese instead of the meat
different breakfast cereal instead of porridge for variety
some dried fruit and more veg instead of some of the other buys

This is actually a lot more meat than we would eat in one week but many of the non-meat meals need extra ingredients that it wouldn't be possible to buy in the first week with only £20...if you see what I mean. I rarely use bacon in a quiche but a red pepper or something similar to bulk it up costs more than a pack of cheap bacon.
Phew..............all that working out has worn out my poor brain, I shall have to go and lie down!

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On a totally different subject - I came to conclusion that listing the books I've read this year over in a side bar would be such a long list it would push all the other things right down the page. So I've opened a separate page and if you click on Books Read 2015 at the top just under the picture you will find what I have read. Thanks to Dc at Frugal in Norfolk for giving the instructions for adding pages. I got lost when it came to tab colours etc but at least I got the page up there! If you've never read Dcs War Diaries that she has on a tab at the top of her blog - I can recommend them for a good read.

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Can you feed two people well for a week for £20?

 We've had a very quiet day today and I've felt guilty for having my nose in a book  ( Eleanor Graham - The Children who lived in a Barn) and in the laptop for several hours, but once we had shifted some fencing so we can move one lot of chickens tomorrow there wasn't really much to do. Of course I've done all the normal things like sorting out a meal for tonight, chopping a bit of kindling,  hoovering up and collecting and sorting eggs but that was it really.

Anyway, I had some time over the weekend and today to fiddle about on the computer ( My Supermarket comparison website) and thought I would  throw out this idea and see what came back. You don't have to actually do it -just come up with the ideas. I was thinking back to last year when there were some posts about  feeding a family of 4 for £40 a week. There are only 2 of us so I was working out £20 worth of shopping. It was ever so difficult to start from scratch as if there was almost nothing in the cupboard. For instance to have some rice for one meal you have to buy a whole bag full.  And I KNOW there will be some people who already spend less than this - well done! and please share.

These were my guidelines for 2 people for 7 days
  • You have just £20 and you can only visit 2 shops for your shopping and NO yellow ticket reductions.
  •  You have a almost  EMPTY  cupboard except for tea and/or coffee ( depending on what you drink), sugar, salt and pepper, a few stock cubes, a bit of sunflower oil and 2 other sorts of seasonings or flavouring type things of your choice. For instance - in my virtual cupboard are Curry Powder and Mixed Sweet Spices.
  • You have NO garden so no fresh produce from there!
  • There must be 3 'proper' meals each day, at least 1 dessert and some snacks.
  • You can't suddenly become vegetarian if you weren't already and you have to take account of any dietary problems - in my case I can't eat pulses
  • There must be some fresh fruit and veg included.
What do you reckon? Anyone want to write their shopping list and what they would do with what they bought?

I'll come back tomorrow with my list, it ended up being a bit fattening as flour is cheap, several recipes seemed to be pastry based. So I'm looking forward to some better ideas. I think I would maybe re-do it using chicken and fish - Though that might push up the price and leave less for for fresh stuff. And I had no money for cheese which would be disastrous for me!

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A Big welcome to Faye, another new follower in the Google pictures over there on the right. Numbers are going up by leaps and bounds!
While I was fiddling yesterday I came across a blog that I'm looking forward to following. It's called Remembering The Old Ways and I really would like a kitchen like the picture on the header! and she has 8 children!
My only problem is that that I now have so many good blogs to read that I may have no time for housework. Oh well, never mind.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday, much appreciated.
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Sunday, 18 January 2015


The first book I've re-read is a book about re-reading!
Susan Hills book " Howards End is on the landing" takes us on a tour of the thousands of books on the bookshelves in her home when she decides to spend a year without buying any new books.
I've tried several times to get into her crime series featuring Simon Serrailler, without success and I've also not read any of her other novels but what I have got on my shelves are three of her non fiction books which I love - The Magic Apple Tree, Through the Garden Gate and Through the Kitchen Window. She has also written some books of short stories - I read  one and mentioned it a few days ago plus she has a publishing company too.

My second re-read, which I'm just skimming through is C.J. Sansom  - Heartstone

This is the 5th in his Shardlake series set in Tudor England. The 6th is amongst the books I will be picking up from the library van on Friday but there is a four year gap between these titles so I need to re-acquaint  myself with the characters. 

Well, we still haven't had the temperatures of -15℃ which were talked about, in fact we've hardly been minus anything. Our snowfall so far was about 20 seconds of small flakes. I think some parts of Scotland have had snow. Maybe the Daily Express newspaper with the shock horror big freeze headlines should have been for sale in Scotland and not Saxmundham!

We've been wood cutting and clearing cabbage stalks this morning and then this afternoon we settled down to watch the Masters snooker final, but it's a bit one sided so far.

Welcome to Marlane a new follower in the Google friends pictures and I think Jan, Sue, Crafty mum and Patricia are new on Bloglovin'

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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Hoping for a better apple crop

12 days after Old Christmas Day ( before the calender changed around 500 years ago) at dusk, people used to go out to the orchards, especially in the West Country, Kent, Essex and Suffolk, to Wassail the Apple trees.

Old Apple tree
We wassail thee
And hope that you will bare
Hats full, Caps full
And a little heap under the stair

Some of a farm workers pay was in the form of cider so a good crop was vital. Wassail is a toast meaning good health and bread soaked in cider would be hung on the tree while this verse - or something similar - was said and the tree beaten with sticks ( seems a bit harsh but there are many rhymes associated with beating trees for a good crop. For instance " A dog, a woman and a Walnut tree, the more you beat them the better they be!")

I looked to see if there were any wassailing ceremonies happening in Suffolk and there's one over at Ringshall in Mid Suffolk, a bit too far away from us, so we shall just be out here in our own orchard.
 I don't think I shall be out there long as it's pretty  chilly today and we even had 10 seconds of snow.

First thing this morning we got the rest of the fruit bushes mulched with our compost, I still haven't pruned the gooseberries - but never mind. I shan't get concerned about jobs not done this early in the year. My first sowing of seeds has been a disaster, the propagator got accidentally turned off and I didn't notice for a couple of days. There are a few tomato seedlings  up but that's all. Plenty of time to sow more. I have problems getting up enthusiasm for gardening in January, though things for the poly-tunnels really do need starting this early.

The member of the Smallholders Society came and got two IBCs this morning, so with the two that sold at the auction yard on Monday they have earned us £116 this week. ( minus what Col paid for them of course) Very handy.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday. There are several new followers by Bloglovin' but it won't let me see who you are today. Welcome whoever you are! Bloglovin' is catching up to Google Friends. I like Google best because of the little pictures!

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Friday, 16 January 2015

Suffolk isn't flat if you are cycling.

This morning I decided to test my fitness by biking to Samundham, although at 2½ miles it is the same distance away as Leiston, there are more ups and downs and no hedges so when it's windy it can be hard work. Luckily not windy today just a bit chilly. On the way home Church Hill in Saxmundham is steep enough when pushing the bike and impossible to cycle up unless you are ultra fit and without a load of shopping.

This is the view that you get after pushing the bike up the hill from town.Our house is near the pylons in the distance, you can just spot a car on the road - it's the B1119  - that winds it's way around some double bends between Saxmundham and where our road turns off. Not too much traffic today on the way there or back.
I only needed milk and some apples from Tescos but I noticed they seem to have brought back more of their value range and had lots of things labelled up at half price. I forgot to look at the Cadburys Cream Eggs to find out what Sue at New Life in the Country was posting about yesterday.

On the way out I noticed the Daily Express - who love their weather headlines - had 

ARCTIC WHITEOUT: Coldest freeze in years on the way as -15C gales blast in

When I got home the postman had brought me a gift and a letter from a friend. She had been bought a subscription to Backwoods Home Magazine ( an American Self-reliant living mag.) by her daughter and had received 2 copies of the Nov/Dec edition so had sent me one.

Col was over the road doing some odd jobs for our neighbour this morning including wrapping up some of her tender plants with bubble wrap. Just  in time if the Express is right.

Thank you To Dawn, Jan, SusanM, Wean, 50 and Counting,Angry Parsnip, Kitty Kitty Weaslefish and Elise for comments yesterday. It's lovely when people say they enjoy the blog - Thank you.

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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Just a Quiet Day in Suffolk.

A windy night, but not as bad as we were warned.

We went for a speedy walk this morning after hearing on the radio that 20 minutes of brisk walking can extend your life even if you are overweight. Now we know how far along the road we can get in 10 minutes we might do it more often. Our usual walks around the footpaths are just mud at the moment and there is no way to walk briskly when every step goes squelch.
After coffee a bit more compost was carted to the fruit cage and put around the two rows of raspberry canes. Just a few gooseberry and redcurrant bushes left to do. Then it will be the bigger job of putting some in the 3 poly tunnels.

Nothing much to write about today, so

Back tomorrow

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Welcome To Anyone Who Wants To Be Anonymous

I was puzzled how some people get masses of comments from mysterious people so I've been fiddling with the blog set-up and found out why I never got any comments from Ms Anonymous.  Have rectified that. Will I get Trolls now? We will see. It can always be undone.

I see from other blogs that many places have had a bit of snow. No sign of any here on the Suffolk coast in fact we had bright sunshine and blue skies here this morning, though it's pretty chilly and strong winds are forecast for tonight.

 Col got the black grease stuff painted around the trunks of the fruit trees, hopefully that will stop a few nasty creatures climbing up to damage the fruit. I used to spend several £ on buying sticky traps that suspend in special hanging things from the trees later in the year. These are meant to show if there is a problem with codling moth,but as we never did any spraying anyway they seemed a bit pointless, so I've not bought any for a few years. We still seem to get some good apple cropping years and some not so good whatever we do so I think it's more down to the weather than anything else.

I needed a picture for today's post so here are the very last of our own tiny tomatoes eaten by Col for his lunch,
 they've been slowly turning red in a tray in the unheated craft room since they were brought in from the poytunnel several weeks back. He's been able to have a few every day, I can't eat fresh tomatoes unless they are the huge pointy ones with virtually no seeds so they've lasted well for him.

I need to bring to your attention something VERY unusual on BBC TV tonight..... Ipswich Town Football Club in a F.A Cup replay against Southampton. A Must Watch for any Suffolk person! I've followed the fortunes ( and there haven't been many of those lately) of ITFC since I was about 13 and some of the members of the team plus publicity people went round all the villages in the summer holidays with a caravan and handed out photos and fixture lists. All the boys were really excited so of course us girls got interested too. For a couple of years afterwards I cut out everything I could from the newspapers and made Ipswich Town football scrapbooks. I didn't actually get to a game until I was going out with a bloke who often went, so I got to go to. It wasn't the done thing in the early 70's for girls to go to football matches without a bloke! At least not in sleepy Suffolk.

 Thank you to Ilona at Life after Money for suggesting a catchy title for yesterdays post, John Gray    ( Going Gently) said that was what he would have said but Ilona got in first - yeah right! And John Wooldridge at Of Brambles and Bears offered himself for helping with breast screening! - There's always one bright spark. I think it would be bad for his knees!

And Finally

Welcome to new Followers Marie on Bloglovin' and  A Few Pennies in the Google list.

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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Knocker squashing!! ( Title suggested by Ilona and changed for a dare from John!)

( Edited to explain the above ......My original title said I couldn't think of a catchy title for this post and I said I expect John at Going Gently could come up with something. But Ilona beat him to it and John said I should change my title so I did)

Why? because I had to pop down to Leiston this morning for this

We are so lucky to have them come and park in the Co-op car park, saves the journey to Ipswich hospital. So I have been duly squeezed in all directions and I await the letter in a couple of weeks time. I cannot understand any woman who doesn't take advantage of this. Better to know I reckon.

We had SO much rain overnight and more forecast for on and off all week, the road between Knodishall and Leiston was closed because of a lake across it. So I'm glad I didn't bike down as it was a 2 mile extra detour. Flooding in this spot was a regular occurrence for the first few years that we lived here, then some work was done to remedy it and it was flood free. Suddenly this year it's back to floods again with water running off fields on both sides of the road and down into the dip.

Once the rain stopped the sun was nice and bright for a few hours and the washing soon dried. Col got into his water proof overalls to clean out some of the IBC containers as we had a phone call from our ad in the new Suffolk Smallholders Newsletter with someone coming to collect a couple next weekend. The two we took to Campsea Ash auction-yard also sold yesterday, so another few pounds into the kitty for February.

Another follower in the Google pictures on the right, welcome Mrs Tiggywinkle hope you enjoy my contributions to the blogosphere. She has a lovely photo of Shropshire as her header and a soup recipe which reminds me that the ring seal for my liquidiser arrived today, so I shall be soup making again tomorrow. Col canceled the first order as after 8 days it still hadn't been dispatched, he re-ordered from somewhere else and it got here in 2 days.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday.

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Monday, 12 January 2015

Eating out for £1.80

Unless you count our trip to the feed mill and shopping in Leiston, we've been nowhere interesting since the start of the year. So a half day out was called for. My choice is always the same - see the sea and charity shops!

Felixstowe was the destination, with at least 8 charity shops to look round. Unfortunately the charity bookshop was shut for refurbishment, but never mind we went round all the rest.
Nothing wildly exciting found, only useful things and this lot was bought with the change in my purse so I didn't even break into a note.
A new flannel, a new clutch bag ready for the wedding, 2 books also brand new and a cotton top. £4.50  for the lot. The book with the train on keeps coming up on my recommended list on Amazon. So I'm curious to read it, its a crime novel originally written in the 1930s and recently re-published.
 The charity shop with the bright pink clutch purse also had a bright pink fascinator which would have been OK for the wedding if only my hair was long enough to clip it on, and a fascinator with a headband won't work either for the same reason. I may have to have a hat after all. Ha Ha Ha me in a hat is hilarious!

Our meal out for £1.80? Soup from home and a hot sausage roll each from Greggs. Eaten in the car overlooking the grey north sea. We had hoped to walk along the prom after eating but it started raining hard and the wind was blowing a hooley so we came home instead.

Grey north sea and grey sky to match.
Thank you for so many comments yesterday. One day I will share with you my whole collection of Amish and Mennonite books. Angela at Tracing Rainbows suggested The More with Less cookbook which I have plus about 8 other various books collected over the last 20 or so years.
A couple of people from the States mentioned 'puppy mills' which  is what we call puppy farms, where dogs are bred continuously in poor conditions with no thought for their welfare. It seems odd for Amish people to have got into this when they ought to be following the Bible and  caring for all God's creatures.

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Sunday, 11 January 2015

As Simple as the Amish?

You know sometimes when you have to fill in a form or order something and there's a question that asks " Please tick how you heard about our company. Then it will give a list like
From a friend
TV advertising
Newspaper advertising

I always want to say " I haven't a clue, maybe I always knew about you through osmosis or something weird!"

All the above is just to say that I don't know how I first heard about the Amish and Mennonite  people in the States and Canada. Their way of living interests me, not because I want to live exactly as they do - I couldn't do 4 hours sitting at their church Meeting for a start.
But they have less family breakdowns, almost no divorce, their banks don't rip them off and the schools are still small.
I've collected a few books about them over the years and the newest was for Christmas.
  It looks interesting although I notice quite a lot of quoting from the Bible.

I've said dozens of times in the past that I would like to live more simply, to which the answer is "we already live a more simple life than three quarters of the population".
And I suppose we do.
With hopefully no hassles and definitely no faff!

 This is an update of something I wrote at the end of 2013 which we have followed through 2014 and will again during 2015.

 Our Simple Living "Rules"

We will think before we buy things. We will use the internet if it's cheaper. Choose second hand if possible. We won't go shopping just for fun but on the other hand we will visit charity shops and car boot sales on our days out.

We will know the difference between wants and needs.

We will keep an open mind when looking at advertising and new ideas. We can look and read without buying.

We will save towards a holiday and the  wedding of our eldest daughter so that neither causes financial bother

We will take the opportunity to sit out in the sun whenever we can and to enjoy reading and walking.

We won't suddenly feel the need to spend money on hair cuts or things to make us beautiful ( too late for that!)

We will not start keeping up with any Jones's or anyone else.

We will always know what money we have. We will save all that we can on the good days to use on the bad days. We will check bank statements, we will only use the  credit card when necessary and pay off every month. We will make our savings work for us and try not to dip into them unless we really have to.

We will grow and use as much of our own fruit and vegetables as we can, we will eat with the seasons and keep our food simple.  This means that a take away and Christmas food becomes a special treat.

We will have faith in ourselves in being able to manage.

Other than the above I'm not sure how to make things simpler.

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Were they there yesterday?

Every morning I take the eggs out to the stand at the front gate, turn round and follow the path up to the campsite on my way to go to the top of the field. So every morning I pass the cherry tree on my left but I didn't notice the first snowdrops yesterday, can they appear over night?
It was certainly warm enough over night, the thermometer which is on the out side of the kitchen window said 14℃. We think it's a couple of degrees high all the time but even so that's a bit warm for 7.30am on a January morning.
I knew the catkins on my Purple Leafed Hazel (Corylus Purpurea - I think)

  were already showing as I cut a few to bring in the other day along with some bits of  the variegated  shrub  in the picture that's similar to a holly but not prickly and a piece of the Scented Box  ( ?).

The Christmas Rose or Hellebore is in bud too.
With signs of spring all round I decided to get going with some seed sowing so a few pepper, tomato and aubergine seeds have gone into the windowsill propagator and some parsley seeds in a pot near the Rayburn.
Col spent a while clearing some dead stuff from the flower garden out the back, sometime we must sort out the long border out the front of the house.
Then it rained and by golly it rained! The temperature dropped right down and stayed cold in a strong wind, so I've been crafting again this afternoon..

Thank you for comments yesterday. I'll try not to feel guilty doing craft things on a weekday morning!

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Friday, 9 January 2015


 A book finished
I enjoyed this, a book borrowed from the library by an author I've read  previously. It is yet another book using the technique of moving between two different time periods, something a lot of authors seem to do now. In this case it is war time Paris, 1960s Paris and England.

And cards finished
These ( except for the teeny cross stitch top left) are decoupage but the 3D -ness of them is lost in a photo.

So  you can work out from the above that I've not done many other housewifely things today, although I tackled a bit of ironing before I started all the craft stuff.
 A few years back I would have felt guilty about crafting on a week day morning because I used to suffer with depression every winter. Not great big Black Dog depression sitting on my head but just a small one nipping round my ankles! It  made me feel cold and unable to concentrate on things, unable to do anything enjoyable. It's silly really as there's nothing much to do outside so being in the craft room is sensible. Since Col has been home I'm much better - although tablets help too! - he is better at remembering to keep  the fires alight to keep me warm.
Actually he worked outside for a while this morning and has cut back the Alstromeria and one of the shrubs. It was much brighter today although after yesterdays rain the field and chicken runs are back to a mud bath again.

Thanks for lots of comments yesterday, I'm still waiting for my liquidiser seal and the other delivery  and it looks like I'm not getting anymore copies of Home Farmer magazine to review but it was a nice treat while it lasted.

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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Winter hobbies

It's been a really nasty day here today - with a lot of heavy rain. I've been in the craft room putting together some of the 3D decoupage cards that I cut out the other evening. I love having so many hobbies to do.Today I could choose from knitting dishcloths, cross stitch, paper craft cards, reading, Sudoku, writing a letter and of course doing a blog post. The best thing about all these winter hobbies is that none of them cost a lot of money. I also think having plenty to do is one of the ways to get through winter depression, which can creep up on me sometimes if I'm feeling aimless.

 A first here yesterday ( only about 15 years behind everyone else!) ................. An online supermarket shop. Because Sainsburys sent us some £6 off £30 shop vouchers and we didn't want to go to Ipswich until next month. So I went through my shopping list on My Supermarket comparison site, finding all the things that were cheaper at Sainsburys because they were on offer and ordered several of each. That should see us through until next time they are on offer somewhere. I picked a £1 delivery slot  and saved myself around £18 in total.
The delivery driver was a bit gushy  "Thank you so much for choosing us for you first order etc", I didn't tell him it will be a very rare occurrence and may well never happen again!

Isn't it strange how some things that you send for arrive next day, yet other companies take an age. I'm still waiting for the rubber ring washer thingy for my Kenwood chef liquidiser, ordered nearly a week ago and bulk buys  from the Eco Green Store ordered at the same time, yet the rat bait Col ordered on Tuesday was delivered today.

Thank you to lots and lots of people for comments yesterday. It's reassuring to know I'm not the only person with a list about next Christmas. Thank you to Phyllis Weaving who mentioned that there will be another series of Call The Midwife next year too.

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

To Remember For Next Christmas

Yes I really am looking that far ahead!

I usually make a few notes in the start of my new diary to remind me of what's what, this year I will share them with you.... you lucky people!

  • Look out for wrapping paper at car boot sales
  • No need to buy any Christmas cards  as I have got enough for next year
  • But I want to make some special cards for the family ( Need to search for ideas - cross stitch?)
  • 12 people fit round the dining table but a bit too many for the living room
  • Having everyone here on one day was good, but left no time to chat much
  • The chocolate meringue gateau is delicious but we've had it 2 years running so find something different for next year.
  • I don't need to make Christmas puddings next year - two in the cupboard
  • Might do hampers for sisters and Bros in L? Write down ideas
  • Maybe find another cheap Christmas tree at a car boot as we have so many tree decorations that never get used.
  • Remember to use Scout Post for Ipswich relatives, need to be in Ipswich during first 2 weeks of Dec.
  • Look for small gifts at car boot sales for "tree presents" and maybe cracker fillers
And  I spent a while yesterday evening cutting out some 3D decoupage sheets for making  Christmas cards.
Yep, it's official..........I'm mad!
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One of the last things Col did before the Hardly-a-Heart Attack was to bring home 8 big IBC containers from the factory in Leiston.
He got them cheap as they had so many there with no one wanting them. They are all ones that can't be used again officially because either the frames are too rusty or the taps leak a bit. They've been advertised in the Suffolk Smallholders Newsletter ever since but we've had no phone calls.  Odd really as this is the ideal time for arranging a water catching/storage system before the summer. So today on our way to get a load of chicken feed we dropped 2 off at the sale-yard where they will go in next Mondays Auction. We will see what happens.

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 Just seen a trailer for a new series of Call the midwife, I'm looking forward to that as I didn't think they were doing anymore. I missed the Christmas one, probably a good thing as I would have cried my way through the whole programme!

Welcome to Jan, following by Google friends. Hope you enjoy my ramblings from Suffolk.

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Day of More......

More bike riding,  more wood moving, more knitting and more reading.

That's what I've done today.

The bike riding was to Leiston again to pick up some tablets for Col. Taking several tablets, that have different numbers in the packets, makes ordering (online-thank goodness) and collecting a regular occurrence. Head wind up hill home but I got back without puffing. Good, I must be back to full fitness again.

Wood moving was shifting more dry stuff into the shed for cutting next week.

Knitting was more of a dishcloth

Reading was finishing this
This is a small book of short stories.
I don't usually read short stories, I don't really like short stories, I'm not sure why I got this from the library van. Did someone joining in the Year of Books thing mention it? or did I just spot it on the mobile and borrowed it out of curiosity? I also don't know why I bothered to finish reading as the stories are slightly weird. All in all I have wasted an hour or two of my life!

Col has been number crunching with regard to changing the Jeep to something smaller. He reckons based on the number of miles we do we would save around £1,000 a year. BUT if we spend out on a Berlingo or something similar that's say, 4 years old, without thousands of miles on the clock, it will deplete our savings about £7,000  and  depreciates by...........£1000 a year! We've had the Jeep long enough for us to have got our moneys worth out of it already. OK... Right ... another thing to consider.
Now I must welcome Wean and Lynn over in the Google pictures and Cheryl, Jean and Joanne who have clicked the Bloglovin' button.
Thank you for comments yesterday about the budget. 2 points were raised. First, our land is not suitable for horses as it is too wet in winter and grows to be quite lush in summer and we have no proper fencing and I'm not keen on horses anyway. So doing a livery is definite NO! Plus the idea of running courses, - been there, done that with the Smallholders Society. Too much like hard work!
We will carry on how we are and see what happens. No rush to change plans.

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Monday, 5 January 2015

Planning the budget for 2015

Due to Cols heart attack and him having to take things a bit easier we think our income in 2015 will drop  by about  £300 a month, maybe more in the second half of the year. No more hedge cutting for our neighbour for a start. We have already halved the number of chickens we keep and plan to drop down to just a couple of dozen to enable us to have a short break and also get to our daughters wedding, we may increase numbers again later in the year. We will also not be hay-making on the two fields that we used to rent.

Here is an updated version of the post ( see it here) I did around this time last year

How we organise our budget

1. Council Tax. Because  we have lived here for 21 years our Council Tax is based on the tax bands when they were first set in  1991. I believe tax bands are re-calculated when houses are sold. We are also in a very rural area, so our Council Tax is a lot less than that paid in towns. We pay by direct debit over 10 months.  I'm not expecting the cost to go up very much as County, District and Parish councils have pledged to keep costs down.

2. Water Bill. We have a meter for the Campsite and farm buildings. The house is not metered. We have no mains sewer here, so septic tank drainage. The water bill for the house is direct debit over 10 months and is also based on the 1991 Council tax band. We pay the metered bill twice a year, this varies - the more campers we get the higher the bill. But the more campers the bigger the income anyway.The usage for farm/garden is low as we have huge rainfall collection tanks ( 8000 litres total!) on the farm buildings  and move the water around to water tanks in the garden.

3. Electric Bill. This varies a lot, again depending on how many campers come to the site. We pay quarterly for both.

4. TV Licence. I budget £15 a month, for 12 months. This allows for price increase and a bit left each year to add to anything with a shortage.
Total needed for those 4 things is approx £290 per month ( less for 2 months with no council tax)

The Campsite and smallholding businesses

1. Public Liability and Business insurance. We have to send a copy of this to The Camping and Caravanning Club. Without it we would be unable to run the site. We also need it because of selling eggs etc.  This seems to go up by a few pounds every year. Direct Debit £53 a month for 12 months at the moment.
2. Campsite electric inspection and test. Every year we have to have an electric test on the hook-ups and a certificate to say it's been done. A copy of this goes to the Camping and Caravanning Club. Without this we wouldn't be able to operate the campsite. It's around £75 each year.
3. Chicken feed. Range Layers pellets direct from the Mill. They changed from 25kg to 20 kg bags last year and  now  we collect 20 bags at a time. With the number of hens  we have at present this lasts a couple of months. When we drop down to 2 dozen hens for a while  one load will last us longer.We also need to buy grit and oyster shell. Even though they are free range they need these as our soil is heavy clay.
4. Buying new point-of -lay  hens. To keep a steady egg supply for our customers, we replace the very old hens with new young hens each year. About 60 each year at £6.50 each. We plan to restock in summer so need to save for then.
5.Egg Boxes, Egg wash and cleaning cloths. We use plain grey boxes as they are the cheapest  and we buy them in big packs of 300 collecting 1500 once a year direct from a farm supplier. I use a sanitizing egg wash for cleaning muddy eggs and a clean cloth ( J cloth type) every day which then goes in the wash.
6. Diesel for the tractor. We are allowed to use Red diesel for the tractor BUT nowhere locally sells it. We could have 1000 Litres delivered! except a tank costs a fortune and that amount would last us for ever. So we get a can full whenever possible from Morrisons in Ipswich as they are the only garage that we know of that sells it.
7.Petrol for the mower and chainsaw. Neither uses a huge amount. We need both, one for cutting the campsite and the other for cutting our free heating wood.
8.Campsite requisites. That's Loo rolls, paper towels, cleaning stuff. I usually buy these out of the housekeeping except for the paper towels which I stock up on when Viking mail order office supplies have a sale.
9. Multi purpose and seed compost plus seeds and plants for vegetables. I always check through several seed companies catalogues comparing prices. I have spent a lot less this year, cutting down in several places - £63 so far and seed potatoes still to buy. We sell probably 70 - 80% of what we grow so easily get our money back and earn a good income from June through to October. We are not sure what we will manage this year, it depends on how much Col can do.
10. Smallholding repairs and maintenance. There are always expenses when you own land and want to earn an income from it .Machinery repairs and replacements and maintenance and even small things like sticky labels for selling things at the gate, the list is endless. BUT as we will be doing less I shouldn't need to save so much each month.

Approx £240 a month needed  for the above

 The ( B*****) Jeep!

1. Diesel for the jeep. We try not to waste journeys and  do lots of  errands  when we are out. Luckily for most of our daily requirements we only need a 5 mile round trip. I cycle whenever I can. Our nearest petrol station is the local one in Leiston, who have now started giving Tesco Club Card points. They are often no more expensive than the supermarket filling stations and the nearest one of those is  over 20 miles away. We plan to change to something MUCH more economical later in the year as we won't need to haul large trailers about anymore.
2. Jeep Insurance. This is the almost the cheapest bit of running our gas-guzzling 4WD that we couldn't do without (in the past) on the smallholding. As we are over 50 we get it via Saga and they will match any quote we can find elsewhere. Col checked out insurance for something smaller and it would be about £30 -£40 less each year.
3.Jeep MOT. Col is able to do most of the servicing so checks the jeep out before taking it to the garage.
4. Jeep Tax = Too Much but unavoidable! £285 this year. This will be much less when we swap to something smaller.
5.Bits for servicing, tires, oil  etc

Approx £200 a month in total at the moment but hopefully half that later in the year.

The things we need for everyday life

1.All  Food and drink ( including Christmas)
2. Clothes and shoes ( Urgently need to save for something for our daughters wedding.)
3 Personal Hygiene (  Loo rolls,Toothpaste, soap, shampoo etc etc)
4.Cleaning and Laundry stuff
5.Pre-payment prescription cards, opticians and dentist. ( I get free prescriptions after April)
6. Phone and computer.
7.Bottled gas for the hob  and coal to keep the Rayburn alight overnight when it's very cold    
8. Birthday and Christmas gifts for family and friends ( I MUST cut this for 2015)
9. House and contents insurance
10. Smaller Things for the house
11. Postage

Approx £475 per month for all above but a bit less after April

We have money in savings for replacing household appliances, the expected expenses like pumping out the septic tank and the unexpected. These need to be added to if possible as there are always unexpected expenses!

So we will save whatever we can in the good months of summer

Then we want to have some money for the things that make life interesting
Christmas treats
Days out
Craft materials
Feeding the birds

Whatever we can spare from not spending so much in any of the above categories.

 Can we earn more than £1205 a month averaged out over the year?

Hopefully we can but I'm not as sure as I was last year because our income comes from several sources and the list below is shorter than it was in 2014.

  • The campsite between April and October.....Praying for good weather!
  • Egg sales every day ( a lot less than last year and less again when we drop down to enable us to get on holiday).
  • Sale of hay after haymaking and throughout year ( only our 2 acres here will be cut for hay in 2015)
  • Sale of fruit, vegetables and a few flowers mainly from June until November
  • Income from Cs odd jobs. ( We don't know what he will be able to manage).
  • Occasional income - Election duty, I opted out last year but will probably do it this year ( approx £100)
  • Car boot sale? - I swore last year not to do another for a few years but we have some STUFF! Goodness knows where it has come from and there's bound to be more if we search around.
  •  Income from investments. This will decrease mid-year when our 5 year Bonds come to an end. Interest rates have dropped dramatically since we invested the money left to us by my Dad in 2010.
  • Repayments from money we loaned to someone in the family last year to help them out of bother.
(Lots of people still think we have a pension but No, not yet. There might be a possibility of Cols work pension in 2017, otherwise we will have to wait until 2021 and 2023)

 So that's our budget for 2015. If things go as planned we will be OK, if not we will have to use some of the savings. I will hate to see savings used  for everyday so will try to avoid if possible.

We will try and stay here for another year and see how things go. We might have to move in 2016.

Back Tomorrow

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